Do you want the red pill or the blue pill?
Red pill – you will know the truth, you will work hard, practice for years and slowly, in time become a master.
Blue pill – you will be an overnight sensation with barely passable skills.
(Is there a purple pill?)
I just read an insightful rant from guitar luthier William Cumpiano. This brings up many thoughts in me about the future of developing excellence for musicians and other artists, and how the immediacy of today’s 2011 internet “sidesteps” the old version of “paying dues.”
It’s a knife that cuts both ways. That which I find hurtful, when used by others – is also the secret success weapon I carry and use myself.
He talks about how after a course of guitar building, students of his are eager to open a shop, take orders and build away.
“A master is someone who has made more mistakes than you, has made mistakes you haven’t made yet, and has learned how to embrace them–thus learning to see them coming before they happen. So you go towards mastery one mistake at a time. How many mistakes can you stand? As many as it takes to be a master. The master has persevered past the errors until he’s made all of them.”
This brings me to an interesting point. Sure, it’s easy for me to bemoan the fact that many apparently “undeserving” people skyrocket to the top – due to Youtube and Twitter’s viral possibilities.
Extreme examples are Justin Bieber, Rebecca Black – but even in my field of fingerstyle guitar, very so-so players because of their look, age, cosutme or tricks, simply “speed ahead” of the pack with their gimmick, rack up youtube hits and build a cyber following.
But – did I mention my secret weapon is that same tool that they use? I have blood on my hands too.
I’ve gotten a worldwide following, sold CDs, Books, DVDs, and gotten bookings on worldwide festivals much faster and more easily than I would have “the old way”. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like easy.
I find too, now that with these tools – I suffer the same impatience. I love the thrill of “learn it, and get it out there quick!” just like they do.
“What? Practice a piece for a year? There’s no time for that!”
I am thankful for having had some teachers who made me go slow, put the hours in and sharpen my tools – before the web even existed. I remember the days of buying a telephone answering machine which used tape! Talk about slow….
If I was a kid today, I’d have no patience for becoming a craftsman – knowing I could be a star if I had a “gimmick”. Thank God I put the hours in, and got a habit to do so.
Sooner or later, all of us – artists and listeners WILL want excellence, melody, groove and art. What a pity it would be to spend a lifetime chasing something that Rebecca Black could do in a few months.
It’s perplexing because “excellence” may no longer be the measuring stick that young artists use for themselves. For them, excellence would slow down their career too much.
Single Malt Monkey says
Good points here.
Juan Miguel says
Sweet! Its just amazing to think abuot this idea of seeking for excelence. As you said once ” its simple: ilove it so much i m willing to do the hard work”.
Have to admit something though, i have blood on my hands too. Its becoming very dificult to read anythong longer than 140 carac!
Greetings from spain.
Rob Steinhardt says
Very intersting thoughts AR.
My 1st question is who is Rebecca Black????
Honestly, I have NEVER heard that name before in my life.
Her popularity has eluded me, and somehow I do not feel too deprived as a result 🙂
Other than that, I like what the Compiano said re: what mastery is…..a MAster is one who has made many mistakes ALREADY…..not one who has not made mistakes, but one who has ‘been there, done that’ as the cliche goes.
In Tai Chi we call our teacher not master but Sifu, which translates to ‘One who has gone before’ which is a pretty nice and humble way of desrcibing a person who who royally kick all of our asses combined!
I think to become a really good player, or even a strong intermediate player, one needs to enjoy the work itself, the process….I am working on the Bach Dm lute Suite PRelude right now….it is fast with the RH, and the LF changes are challenging and quick moving. It is a slow, one measure at a time endevour, one I take note by note at a VERY slow slow slwo tempo. Have I said slow yet?
Do I hope to play this piece fast and well? YES
Do I hope to do so anytime soon? NO!
Am I enjoying the long proecess in the meantme? Yes.
and that is a lucky thing, or NO WAY could I learn it if I did not enjoy the daily attention.
(Not that has anything to do with widespread fame,
just my own self-satistfaction…..My goal is to be a legend…In MY OWn Mind! 🙂
As for people on the quick tracj to fame and money…..enjoy it while it lasts, if it lasts….The Harder they Come, The HArder they Fall…Jimmy CLiff…whatever he meant by that.
Moral of the story for me….do the work, enjoy the work, enjoy the results of that work……and do not expect much from others unless it is truly deserved.
(on a coffee induced pontification! I LOVE JAVA!)
Ana Filipa says
Internet for me is a big wonder when it comes to reach people and let others to know what they do, in my own and their country…
I understand that kids even adults want to be famous, quickly, and be rich…. which doesn’t mean to be happy, fulfilled and grown.
I guess that in a country as USA, that easily happens, it is like You post something after an hour You got millions of clicks, it is a more immediate society/response. And if You are young, good-looking…hmmm…
However, I think that everyone has a place in any kind of art, which allow to express themselves, assuming that is in a constructive way..
For me music is one of the biggest tools of universal expression / language.
If you can spread it through Youtube, or any other way faster… And easy? why not?
Get people to know You, listen to You, and actually be able to learn from you…
It works for me… I got more possibilities to “know” other musicians, their techniques, their abilities, different styles… the names of the styles…
I’m not a kid in age, I like to learn fast, and do correctly at first (perfectionist with just few patience), the very little I know and can play in the guitar I share my time with others so that they can start up and go further…maybe because I’m grateful to people that share their talent, knowledge in a way to reach and empower others to get to that level or even go up… I try to do the same and not keep things within…I do not have the wish to be famous (i’m too shy for that) but I allow my inner star to shine when I play/sing…
I prefer the red pill…. slow… learn how things work, investigate, listen to others, read about it… if it will take years or months or days… well… I do not care…. it is the journey of getting there… but also this is not my way of earning money to live… it is just the pleasure of doing and bring some magic to my life.
(sorry for the long message…)
n2SH8F THX that’s a great answer!